WHO chief dismisses Pompeo’s comments as ‘untrue, unacceptable’

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s latest comments on the relations between the UN health body and China is “untrue and unacceptable, without any foundation.”

Speaking at a routine briefing on Thursday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the sole focus of the WHO is on saving lives, and that the organization “will not be distracted by these comments, and we don’t want the entire the international community also to be distracted”, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to a Bloomberg report quoting sources who were present at a private meeting between Pompeo and a group of UK lawmakers in London on Tuesday, Pompeo alleged that “firm intelligence” showed that a deal had been done to get Tedros the job of WHO director-general — and that this had resulted in the deaths of UK citizens from coronavirus.

Tedros reiterated that the politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the greatest threats, as it does not respect borders, ideologies, or political parties.

“I have said it many times. COVID[-19] politics should be quarantined. And I’m appealing again to all nations to work together. Politics and partisanship have made things worse. So, what is very important is science, solutions and solidarity. But I repeat, the allegations are untrue, and without any foundation.”

Also at Thursday’s briefing, Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, firmly backed Tedros, saying that he is “proud to sit by the side of Dr. Tedros… our organisation and his leadership are intertwined.”

“We all serve to save lives,” he said. “We are committed to that. We are proud to be WHO, and we will remain so. And we will serve the vulnerable people of the world, regardless of what is said about us.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, a US citizen and the technical lead for WHO Health Emergencies Program, said at the briefing: “I see firsthand, every day, the work that Dr. Tedros does (and) that Mike does, and that our teams do all over the world. We are firmly focused on saving lives, as Dr. Tedros has said firmly focused. We will not be distracted. And that is what we remain. And we will continue to remain focused on.”